Neck Pain

Neck pain is the common problem experienced by many individuals at some point in their lives. A number of disorders and diseases, involving the tissues in the neck can lead to neck pain.

The neck structure includes the neck muscles, arteries, veins, lymph glands, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, oesophagus, larynx, and trachea. Disease or disorder of any of these structures can lead to neck pain.

Conditions such as cervical spinal stenosis, myofascial pain, ankylosing spondylitis, cervical foraminal stenosis and spondylolisthesis can also be some of the reasons for neck pain.

Common conditions causing neck pain are degenerative disc disease, neck strain, neck injury, herniated disc, pinched nerve. It also occurs due to spinal problems, stiffness of muscles in the neck and upper back.

Causes
  • Spinal disc herniation
  • Spondylosis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Stress
  • Prolonged postures
  • Poor sleeping positions
  • Trauma or falls
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Infections
  • Pinched nerve
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Subarachnoid haemorrhage
  • Lymphadenitis
  • Thyroid trauma
  • Tracheal trauma.
Symptoms

Neck pain is commonly associated with dull aching. Neck pain may also be associated with headache, facial pain, shoulder pain, and arm numbness or tingling. Other symptoms may include:

  • Stiffness of neck
  • Limited neck movements
  • Tingling, tenderness and sharp shooting pain
  • Dizziness or Light-headedness
  • Lymph node (gland) swelling
  • Difficulty swallowing.
Investigations

Investigations depend on the onset, type and history of neck pain. Diagnostic tests include:

  • X-rays
  • CT-scan
  • MRI
  • Electromyography
  • Blood tests
  • Nerve conduction velocity test (NCV)
  • An examination of nervous system
Treatment

Treatment varies with underlying cause for neck pain. Most forms of neck pain can resolve with conservative measures. These may include rest, avoiding reinjury, and rehabilitation. Some treatments include:

  • Rest
  • Heat or Cold Applications
  • Traction
  • Soft-collar traction
  • Medications such as muscle relaxants and antidepressants
  • Physical therapy or exercises (ultrasound, massage, manipulation)
  • Topical Pain Relief Patches
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Analgesics
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Short –term joint immobilisation
  • Surgery
When to see a doctor for neck pain?

Call a doctor if your pain persists, despite self-care measures such as, applying ice or heat, exercise, stretching, physical therapy, practicing good posture or if:

  • It worsens over time
  • Persists after several weeks of self-care.
  • Radiates down your arms or legs.
  • Accompanied by headache, numbness or tingling
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